The Effects of Public Access Defibrillation on Survival After Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Systematic Review of Observational Studies

Josefine S Bækgaard, Søren Viereck, Thea Palsgaard Møller, Annette Kjær Ersbøll, Freddy Lippert, Fredrik Folke
Circulation 2017 September 5, 136 (10): 954-965

BACKGROUND: Despite recent advances, the average survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) remains <10%. Early defibrillation by an automated external defibrillator is the most important intervention for patients with OHCA, showing survival proportions >50%. Accordingly, placement of automated external defibrillators in the community as part of a public access defibrillation program (PAD) is recommended by international guidelines. However, different strategies have been proposed on how exactly to increase and make use of publicly available automated external defibrillators. This systematic review aimed to evaluate the effect of PAD and the different PAD strategies on survival after OHCA.

METHODS: PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library were systematically searched on August 31, 2015 for observational studies reporting survival to hospital discharge in OHCA patients where an automated external defibrillator had been used by nonemergency medical services. PAD was divided into 3 groups according to who applied the defibrillator: nondispatched lay first responders, professional first responders (firefighters/police) dispatched by the Emergency Medical Dispatch Center (EMDC), or lay first responders dispatched by the EMDC.

RESULTS: A total of 41 studies were included; 18 reported PAD by nondispatched lay first responders, 20 reported PAD by EMDC-dispatched professional first responders (firefighters/police), and 3 reported both. We identified no qualified studies reporting survival after PAD by EMDC-dispatched lay first responders. The overall survival to hospital discharge after OHCA treated with PAD showed a median survival of 40.0% (range, 9.1-83.3). Defibrillation by nondispatched lay first responders was associated with the highest survival with a median survival of 53.0% (range, 26.0-72.0), whereas defibrillation by EMDC-dispatched professional first responders (firefighters/police) was associated with a median survival of 28.6% (range, 9.0-76.0). A meta-analysis of the different survival outcomes could not be performed because of the large heterogeneity of the included studies.

CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review showed a median overall survival of 40% for patients with OHCA treated by PAD. Defibrillation by nondispatched lay first responders was found to correlate with the highest impact on survival in comparison with EMDC-dispatched professional first responders. PAD by EMDC-dispatched lay first responders could be a promising strategy, but evidence is lacking.

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